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Long way to go to achieve gender equality in region – ILO

Published:Saturday | March 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The International Labour Organization (ILO) said that over the last 20 years, the inclusion of women in the labour market has been sustained in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has allowed 131 million women to participate in the labour force. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the region, the ILO warned yesterday.

“Women must play an important role in the future of the work we want. That is why the region should redouble its efforts to close the gaps between women and men,” said ILO regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Carlos Rodríguez, referring to labour market data that have highlighted the persistence of inequality.

“The labour participation of women has increased, but it is still 25 percentage points lower than that of men. In contrast, the unemployment rate is three percentage points higher. Other indicators tell us about lower salaries and over-representation in informal employment that usually indicates precarious working conditions,” he added.

Rodríguez said that “these inequalities should not be tolerated when we are debating how to guarantee the jobs of the future in a scenario marked by new technologies, climate change, demographic ageing, and the effects of globalisation. That future also must be written for women.”

He said that steps must be taken to “develop programmes to adapt the capacities of women to the demands of the new scenarios of the future of work”.

ILO data indicate that the participation of women in labour markets is 51.7 per cent, which is equivalent to 131 million people. This represents a considerable advancement compared to the year 2000, when the rate was 47.3 per cent, which was equivalent to 86 million. In 50 years, some 45 million women have joined the workforce.

However, this rate is still far from reaching that of men, which is 76.9 per cent, and equivalent to 187 million people, according to the figures presented on February 13 in the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2019.

Despite the lower participation rate, women constitute half of the unemployed in Latin America and the Caribbean, 12.7 million of the 25.5 million people in that situation. The female unemployment rate expected in 2019, of 9.7 per cent, is notably higher than 6.9 per cent of men, according to the ILO Outlook report.